Quote of the day

brooklynbadboy at Daily Kos:

If Democrats run on something and win, then they should implement what they ran on. What Democrats should not do is run on a platform, win, then turn around and implement the policies of the side that lost. That doesn’t make any sense. It makes a mockery of the political process. It treats Democratic voters like a bunch of rubes. If Republicans want to cut Social Security, let them run on it and win. We don’t need to do their work for them.

Like I say: Anti-democratic.

Very, very cool

One expert says it could be more than 4000 years old:

A giant “monumental” stone structure discovered beneath the waters of the Sea of Galilee in Israel has archaeologists puzzled as to its purpose and even how long ago it was built.

The mysterious structure is cone shaped, made of “unhewn basalt cobbles and boulders,” and weighs an estimated 60,000 tons the researchers said. That makes it heavier than most modern-day warships.

Rising nearly 32 feet high, it has a diameter of about 230 feet. To put that in perspective, the outer stone circle of Stonehenge has a diameter just half that with its tallest stones not reaching that height.

It appears to be a giant cairn, rocks piled on top of each other. Structures like this are known from elsewhere in the world and are sometimes used to mark burials. Researchers do not know if the newly discovered structure was used for this purpose.

Pictures here.

The ownership society

A friend of mine interviewed with a recruiter at a temp agency today. The job she wants is at a local university, and I asked her what it pays.

Well, I couldn’t believe this. They interview people and then the qualified candidates have to bid for the fucking job!

In the weeds

Digby gets into the details of the rest of Obama’s budget proposal here.

Hey, don’t worry about it. We’re going to close those loopholes and raise tons of money because Americas corporate tax lawyers and lobbyists will never, ever, ever be able to open new ones. They just aren’t very good at what they do compared to the congress. So that’s good.

From watching TV this morning, let’s just say I’m feeling the love from the Village for this budget. I’m going to guess that every wealthy, celebrity centrist and liberal pundit would vote for it, so all the congressmen and Senators from DC should definitely support it.

Here’s the full text.

Crime scene

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Chris Hayes with the details on the mortgage fraud settlement — including 56 homeowners who had their houses stolen while they were current on their mortgage payments, who will get $125K apiece — for having their houses stolen.

The most shocking piece of news on Tuesday was a seemingly innocuous document [PDF]. A simple, sterile page; a printout of a spread sheet with numbers.

But what the numbers represent is a massive nationwide crime scene.

That document is a summary of widespread and systemic error, malfeasance and reckless lack of care on the part of our nation’s big banks. What the numbers show are banks foreclosing on military service members who were entitled to relief, and banks foreclosing on homeowners who had been approved for a loan modification. The numbers even show banks foreclosing on homeowners who were not behind in their payments and not in default.

In fact, amazingly, there are at least 53 documented cases of homeowners who were totally current on their payments being successfully foreclosed on. Not just having foreclosure proceedings initiated against them, but actually having their homes taken away from them for no reason.

According to the findings posted just Tuesday by a federal bank regulator as part of a settlement agreement with a number of major banks, between 2009 and 2010, foreclosure proceedings that were wrongful or in some way contained bank error commenced against nearly four million homeowners.

About 30% of those homeowners had to battle potentially wrongful efforts to seize their homes, and more than 244,000 eventually lost their homes.

Tuesday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the regulator who compiled these statistics and came to its settlement with the banks, was supposed to be announcing good news—money to those who have been victimized by the banks practices.
But given the scale of the deception and error, the amount of money is, in most instances, cartoonishly small. A pittance compared to the billions of dollars about a dozen banks and their affiliates likely saved by getting this sweet settlement deal.
Continue Reading →

It’s heeeere! Call now!

Here it is, the attack on our earned benefits. Please, keep calling. The White House switchboard is 202-456-1414. The comments line is 202-456-1111.

Numbers for the Senate are hereNumbers for the House are here.

President Obama on Wednesday unveiled a $3.77 trillion spending plan that proposes modest new investments in infrastructure and education, major new taxes for the wealthy and significant reforms aimed at reducing the cost of Social Security and Medicare.

“Our economy is poised for progess, as long as Washington doesn’t get in the way,” Obama said in announcing his budget plan on the South Lawn of the White House. He said his budget represents “a fiscally responsible blueprint for middle-class jobs and growth.”

“We don’t view this budget as a starting point in the negotiations. This is an offer where the president came more than halfway toward the Republicans,” a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity to detail the forthcoming document.

“So this is our sticking point,” the official said. “And the question is: are Republicans going to be willing to come to us to do serious things to reduce our deficits” – including raising taxes on millionaires.

So far, senior Republicans have rejected the proposal, which would sharply increase both spending and deficits next year over current projections. While the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecasts $3.6 trillion in outlays in the fiscal year that begins in October, Obama calls for $170 billion more.

And while the CBO forecasts a deficit of $616 billion in 2014, Obama calls for a larger gap between spending and revenues of $744 billion, administration officials said, or 4.4 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

The budget gap would narrow over the coming decade, shrinking to 1.7 percent of GDP by 2023, when the national debt would also be shrinking as a measure of the overall economy.

But Obama proposes to lop only about $600 billion off projected borrowing over the next decade — trillions of dollars less than the austere, balanced-budget package that House Republicans endorsed earlier this year. While Obama proposes $1.8 trillion in new savings and tax revenue over the next decade, much of the money would be dedicated to replacing the sequester, $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that went into effect March 1.

Obama’s deficit-reduction plan mirrors the offer he made in December to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff. At the time, Obama called for $1.2 trillion in new taxes. The fiscal cliff deal included roughly $600 billion in new revenues over the next decade, with the bulk of the money coming from higher rates on households earning more than $450,000 a year.

[…] As he has in the past, Obama proposes to slice $400 billion from federal health programs, primarily Medicare, with the bulk of the cuts falling on drug companies and other providers. But Medicare beneficiaries would also take a hit, through higher premiums for couples making more than $170,000 a year and inducements for low-income recipients to use more generic drugs.

And for the first time, Obama formally proposes to slow the growth in Social Security benefits by applying a less-generous measure of inflation to programs throughout the federal government. The change would trim cost-of-living increases by roughly 0.3 percent a year, saving the government about $130 billion over the next decade.

White House officials said the new inflation measure — known as the chained consumer price index, or chained CPI — would not apply to programs for the poor, such as Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, and would be adjusted to reduce the impact on people 77 or older.

The deficit-reduction plan mirrors an offer Obama made in December to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff. At the time, Obama called for $1.2 trillion in new taxes, but the fiscal cliff deal included roughly $600 billion in new revenues over the next decade, with the bulk of the money coming from higher rates on households earning more than $450,000 a year.

Obama’s decision to include chained CPI in his budget proposal has infuriated many Democrats, and a number of liberal lawmakers protested the Social Security cuts Tuesday at the White House. Republicans, meanwhile, who have pressed the president to put the change on the table, have so far dismissed the offer as too “modest” to justify GOP support for higher taxes.

Another reason to love Big Pharma

Don’t worry, we can always up Granny’s deductible to cover the costs. Ha ha ha! Remember when Obama was going to fix this, and allow Americans to buy Canadian drugs? Good times!

The 11 largest drug companies have made $711 billion in profits in just a decade, largely due to overcharging Medicare, which does not seek out competitive prices and uses taxpayer funds to support Big Pharma.

Since Medicare is prohibited from purchasing drugs based on their cost, its prescription drug program has been making large payouts to drug companies that have overcharged the program for years, according to an analysis by Health Care for America Now (HCAN).

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